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Trump allies disrupt 2020 election defamation case by leaking Dominion emails

A cadre of pro-Trump election deniers has disrupted one of Dominion Voting Systems’ massive defamation lawsuits by leaking the company’s internal emails to a sympathetic Michigan sheriff who is investigating supposed fraud in the 2020 election.

The controversy erupted when attorney Stefanie Lambert provided the confidential Dominion documents to Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf, who has embraced conspiracy theories about the 2020 election and has used his office to hunt for fraud. He has since posted more than 2,000 internal Dominion documents on his social media account.

Lambert had access to the Dominion files because she represents former Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne, who is being sued for defamation by the voting company over his 2020 election lies. As part of the case, they have access to “discovery” from Dominion, whose lawyers said they have already turned over more than a million documents.

Michigan prosecutors indicted Lambert last year in connection with an alleged conspiracy to seize voting machines as part of an effort to prove former President Donald Trump’s election fraud claims. There is an active Michigan warrant for Lambert’s arrest after she reportedly failed to appear for recent proceedings in her criminal case.

Lambert attended a hearing Monday in Byrne’s defamation case in Washington, DC, but was never seen leaving the courtroom, and questions swirled among the other attorneys about whether she had been taken into custody.

The judge told Lambert to stay behind as the hearing wrapped up. The other attorneys left the courtroom, and two federal marshals then went inside and locked the doors. Lambert was never seen exiting the courtroom. The marshals declined to say whether they arrested her, and she didn’t answer messages seeking comment after the hearing.

The leaks have, at least for now, diverted attention away from the alleged 2020 election-related defamation. More hearings will be needed to deal with the matter and for the judge to consider potential consequences for Lambert. Dominion’s lawyers also said in filings that company employees are already receiving new death threats in the wake of the disclosures.

During the at-times testy hearing Monday, Magistrate Judge Moxila Upadhyaya peppered Lambert with sharp questions about the disputed Dominion materials. The judge ordered that Lambert be restricted from accessing the database containing the Dominion documents.

“I will deal with the why later – but for now, I need to preserve the status quo,” Upadhyaya said, adding that “we need to prevent any future dissemination.”

The judge said there would be a future hearing to determine whether Lambert violated a court order by leaking the Dominion files – and that Byrne would need to appear and answer questions. Dominion wants Lambert removed from the case and suggested in court Monday that she might have committed a crime by disseminating the files to Leaf.

Lambert, Leaf and Byrne have claimed in court filings and public statements that the documents they disclosed contain evidence that Serbian nationals meddled in the 2020 election at Dominion’s request.

“As has been public for years, Dominion has a small staff presence in Serbia, but any allegation that Dominion employees anywhere tried to interfere with any election is flatly false,” a Dominion spokesperson told CNN after the hearing.

During the hearing, Lambert admitted that she gave the materials to Leaf, though she said she was allowed to because she was reporting a crime to “law enforcement.” She also called on Congress to investigate her claim that “foreign nationals” interfered with the 2020 election, which the US Intelligence Community has said was the most secure ever.

“I did turn the documents over to law enforcement,” Lambert told the judge.

Dominion blasted Lambert and Byrne in court filings before the hearing, saying their claims of Serbian meddling in the US election were “xenophobic” and noting that Lambert was nearly sanctioned for her role in a frivolous, conspiracy-laden election lawsuit.

“It has been nearly four years – when does it stop?” Dominion lawyer Davida Brook said Monday in court, where she accused Lambert and Byrne of “using these lawsuits to spread yet more lies.”

Dominion is suing several other pro-Trump figures who peddled similar lies about the 2020 election, including former Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell and right-wing cable networks Newsmax and One America News. Dominion settled a defamation suit against Fox News last year for $787 million in the largest publicly known defamation settlement in US history.

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